Wizards owner Ted Leonsis sat down with Washington Post columnist Mike Wise earlier this week to discuss a number of topics related to his team's offseason and its recent acquisitions. Leonsis provided a number of interesting quotes on the Wizards' roster decisions, so let's dive right in and check out the highlights….
On the decision to amnesty Andray Blatche:
"I [was] torn. I believe people should have second and third chances. On the other hand, I don’t know where he fits now in this lineup. On the other hand, he [was] the last remaining touchpoint from the previous teams. That’s what [was] being discussed and weighed…. I’m not afraid of amnestying him and paying him the money. We have turned the entire lineup in one and three-quarters seasons. We shouldn’t forget Gilbert [Arenas] played here John Wall’s rookie season until he traded himself to Orlando."
On whether Leonsis recognizes Blatche's contract extension was a mistake:
Yes — we made a mistake. Although the NBA has had close to $250MM of amnestied players to date. Sometimes you get a chance to take a mulligan under the new rules and that is what we did."
On when a star player might want to come to Washington in free agency:
"I think when we can establish we’re a perennial playoff team and when we have one or two young stars — real, legitimate stars. Everyone knows that John Wall is a burgeoning star…. I think most people in the league feel this year, next year that John has the opportunity, if he improves, to be a real star player…. I view it as my part of my mission as an owner to create an environment, fan base and player development system that allows him to be a star. I think it’s a two-way street. You can’t put the onus on just the player. You have to surround him with the right people, have the right coaches."
On the expectations for the coming season:
"I won’t be happy with our plan if we’re back in the lottery…. If we just miss making a playoff spot, no, the world is not going to end. If we’re picking third because we have the second-worst record, no, I will not be happy…. We’ve turned over the roster, turned over the coaching staff. We’ve have good drafts. We took the second-highest-paid player in the league — I think one of the bloggers calculated he averaged $23K per minute — and replaced him with two players that will play big minutes who each averaged 10-15 points a game. We were getting zero from Rashard [Lewis]."
On how the team's roster is different after this year's trades:
"Culturally, every one of these guys is a good guy. It’s a big change. And no one is playing for a contract. I don’t think Nick [Young] and JaVale [McGee] were bad people. But they wanted stats. I understand that, relate and get it. But they weren’t playing as a team. You saw at the end of the year with Nene, who already got his big contract, right. So stats weren’t important to him. The little things were important to him."